What is Design Thinking?

In its most basic form, Design Thinking is a problem-solving process, but it is much more than a set of rigid steps. It is a skill-set that involves unique abilities like empathy, integrative thinking, and a tolerance for risk and ambiguity. Design Thinking has been called a ‘mindset’ or an ‘attitude’ or ‘worldview’. David Kelly, the founder of IDEO (Innovation Design Engineering Organization) just calls it “a bias towards action”.

At a minimum, Design Thinking is characterised by these essential parts:

Design Thinking is a designer’s way of thinking because it involves the synthesis of complex requirements into solutions that are beautiful: i.e. simple, inclusive, and functional in a user-centred way, so that the uptake of the solution is intuitive and already motivated by genuine human needs.

As teachers and Learning Designers, we can use Design Thinking to design learner experiences and resources that tap into how students learn and promote actions that deepen their learning. By focusing on the act of making, we can bring problems with our designs to life quickly and catalyse collaboration to improve our ideas.

In our Design Thinking workshop, we are simulating a highly accelerated Design Thinking process. The aim is to give you a taste of the core elements of Design Thinking by practising empathic thinking, ideation, and solution development and refinement through prototyping. You’ll get a real sense of how the user is the centre of the process and how solutions quickly grow out of this user-centred focus. You’ll be surprised by the speed, energy and effectiveness of the process when applied to problems – large and small – and will probably come away with some ideas about how Design Thinking can be applied in your work context.

For enquiries about running a workshop for your team please contact Kirsten.Black@vu.edu.au (VU staff only).

By: Kirsten Black